The following list includes terms used, often with a delightful lack of precision, in connection with both the dimensions of wine and tasting itself. ’B’ for bads indicates critical descriptive terms , ‘G’ for good is used in praise. See the aroma wheel opposite for terms used to describe actual flavours .
Acetaldehyde, compound formed when alcohol is exposed to air.marginally present in all wines but ideally noticeable only in flor sherries .
Acetic, volatile acid. Often found in cool-fermented whites , but a fault when accessive.
After taste, strictly the flavour left after the wine is swallowed.
Aroma, describes a simple ,often fruity smell or flavour present in young wine .
Astringent, critical term usually used for reltively TANNIC white wines.
Balanced, a wine in which all dimensions – acidity, sweetness, tannins, alcohol- make a harmonious whole.
Blind tasting, an attempt to identify and/or asses wines without knowing their identity. Bottles, not humans are masked.
Body, important characteristic of a wine determined chiefly by its alcoholic strength but also by its extract. The more body a wine has the less like water it tastes.
Bottle age, the mellowing effect of years spent inside the bottle.
Bouquet,the complex and multi-layered smells or flavours which develop as a result of ageing.
Chewy, some but not obtrusive tannins.
Closed, not very smelly, assumed because of its stage of maturity.
Concentrated, good extract and/or intense flavours.
Corked, wine that has been spoilt and smells off-puttinglymouldy because the cork is tainted.
Crisp, perceptible acidity.
Dried out, old wine in which the initial fruit has faded diminishing flavour and extract.
Dumb, not smelly.
Esters, compounds formedby acids and alcohol either during fermentation or ageing , often intensely aromatic (nail polish remover smells strongly esterified).
Extract, an important dimension , the subn of a wine solids, includes phenolics , sugars , mineralsand glycerol; what would be left are boiling.
Finish, the sensory impact of a wine after after it has been swallowed (or spat) . wines can be said to have a long or short finish.
Firm, tannins perceptible.
Flabby, too low in acid.
Flavour, Is really AROMA.
Forward, having aged more rapidly than expected.
Fresh, attractively acid.
Fruit, is the youthful combination of flavour aroma and body coming from the grapes rather than winemaking or ageing.
Fruity, is used either to describe wines with good fruit or , often in white wine marketing speak , as a euphemism for slightly sweet.
Full or full bodied, wine with considerable body.
Glycerol, colourless, natural, sweet-tasting substance which can add to the impression of body.
Green, too acid.
Hard, too tannic.
Hollow, lacking fruit.
Horizontal tasting, comparative tasting of different but related representatives of the same year.
Hot, too alcoholic.
Lean, lacking fruit but not acid.
Legs, see tears.
Length, persistence of the tasting experience of olfactory area and mouth after swallowing, such a wine may be called long.
Lift(ed), wien with perceptible but not excessive volatility.
Light or light bodied, with relatively little body.
Mature, probably aged to its full potential.
Mellow, sometime used for red or euphemism for sweet.
Middle palate, jargon for the overall impact of a wine in the mouth, as in ‘there is not much fruit on the middle palate’.
Mouth feel, the physical impact of a wine on the mouth, its texture. Tannins and body surely play a role here.
Nose, used as both noun and verb , as in ‘it is a bit DUMB on the nose’ and ‘have you nosed this one?’.
Oxidized, harmfully exposed to oxygen.
Powerful, high level of alcohol or extract.
Rich, with some apparent sweetness; curiously , much more complimentary than “sweet”.
Round, good body and not too much tannin.
Short, opposite of long.
Soft, not much tannin.
Spritz(ig), slightly gassy.
Supple,not too tannic.
Tannic, aggressive tannins. All young red wines destined for ageing are expected to have some tannins , but these should ideally be counterbalanced by FRUIT.
Tart, very acid.
Tears, the colourless streams left on the inside of a glass after a relatively alcoholic wine has been swirled. They have nothing to do with GLYCEROL.
Vertical tasting, a comparative tasting of different vintages from the same provenance .
Volatile, a wine with such a high level of volatile , not particularly stable, acids that it smells almost vinegary.